FOR over half a century, Angelinos have flocked to this secluded corner of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. It’s easy to see why. Inspite of the 8,000-foot altitude, mammoth lakes homes for sale sprawl of splashy condos and strip malls has a distinct La feel. Nevertheless the surrounding frozen lakes and granite peaks, immortalized from the photographer Ansel Adams, are decidedly un-La, and will hold their own with any landscape in Colorado or Canada. With expanded daily flights in the San Francisco Bay area and La, in addition to a flurry of new après-ski offerings, Mammoth is hoping to draw skiers from beyond the Golden State.
1) SIBERIAN SPA
Imagine an enormous white expanse of what seems like frozen Siberian tundra, dotted with natural hot springs and in the middle of soaring peaks. Hilltop Hot Spring is loved by locals, however you can participate in, too. There are actually no formal signs or footpaths – just stick to the S.U.V.’s beyond the airport 5 minutes east of Mammoth Lakes and savor a steaming soak, free of cost. For further privacy, cross the direction to Wild Willy’s, a more secluded spring, which needs a 20-minute trek and a couple of snowshoes.
2) With The FIREPLACE
On the reverse side of town is Tamarack Lodge and Resort (163 Twin Lakes Road, off Lake Mary Road; 760-934-2442; tamaracklodge.com). The rustic log cabin, using its bark-wood ceiling fixtures and 1920s-era fireplace, also happens with an impressive wine collection as well as the area’s best chef: Frederic Pierrel (cheffrederic.com). The intimate Lakefront R Restaurant serves up a combination platter of elk medallions, grilled quail and pork marinated in wine on the bed of spicy mashed potatoes ($30). Before being seated, have a mulled wine ($5) or hot cider ($4) with the fire.
3) PANCAKES AND BISCUITS
Before hitting the slopes, fill on pancakes and black-and-white memorabilia in the Stove (644 Old Mammoth Road; 760-934-2821), a cozy spot with long wooden booths and old pictures of cattle ranchers on its walls. In excess of 4 decades, the Stove has served hearty meals just like the Sierra Sunrise (a heap of fried potatoes, peppers, onions and ham topped with eggs and cheese for $9.95). On the way out, get a homemade pie ($13.95) – apple, apricot, cherry. Get there early as being the place fills up fast.
4) BLACK TIE SKIING
Experts from Black Tie Ski Rentals (760-934-7009; blacktieskis.com) will come in your condo and fit you for skis or snowboards. Heck, when the boots don’t feel snug by midday, Colin Fernie along with his team will meet yourself on the slopes and exchange your gear, or switch your snowboard for a set of skis. Not bad for under $40 (a minimum of for beginner skiers).
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5) FRESH TRACKS
With well over 3,500 acres of trails, Mammoth has more variable terrain than most mountains (mammothmountain.com). There are actually three lodges: Eagle, Canyon and Main. Skiers trying to find soft powder and fresh-groomed runs start on Eagle and follow the sun over to Main or even the backside of the mountain (to prevent lift lines, turn back the order). Or consider the gondola from Main to the summit, 11,053 feet above sea level, where you can find a relaxing location for hot cocoa. Marvel at the daredevils who ski off Hangman’s Hollow. Or brave the steep and icy chutes of Dave’s Run or Scotty’s. A safer alternative is Santiago, off of the summit’s less crowded backside, that provides scattered glades and also gorgeous views of your Minarets, a majestic group of jagged granite peaks.
6) SOUTH From The BORDER
Lunch on Mammoth typically involves Mexican fare. If you can’t find the new Roving Mammoth, a bright orange snowcat that doubles like a food cart, serving up burritos ($5.50) – you may also track the snowcat’s whereabouts on Twitter – you can find pulled-pork nachos ($11.42) at the Mill Cafe (760-934-0675), a festive après-ski spot on the base of Chair 2 (in true California fashion, its entrance is scattered with beach chairs). Or, for overflowing plates of nachos and fish tacos, head to the Yodler (10001 Minaret Road; 760-934-2571), a Swiss-style chalet away from the Main Lodge. Gomez’s (100 Canyon Boulevard; 760-924-2693; gomezs.com), a Mexican place with more than 200 tequilas and fittingly mammoth margaritas, relocated into a spot during the village a year ago.
7) ART PARK
Take Chair 10 around ski down a few wide-open runs like Easy Rider or Solitude that stay powdery each day. Or try Quicksilver, a properly-groomed trail with gently sloped glades and variable terrain. Snowboarders should visit the new terrain Art Park, which made its debut in December and showcases funky artworks affixed to its rails and steel structures. Mammoth also recently opened the Stomping Grounds, a terrain park loaded with jumps, jibs plus an Acrobag – which resembles a giant blue moon bounce – to apply flips. Nonsnowboarders should take the newly carved Village Ski Back Trail, a scenic path that meanders past pine trees as well as the backyards of condos, linking the mountain using the village.
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8) GROWLERS AND PASTRIES
Thankfully, après-ski at Mammoth will not involve bad cover bands. If anything, it revolves around its eponymous microbrew. Insiders make their method to a warehouse converted a few years back in a beer-tasting room for your Mammoth Brewing Company (94 Berner Street; 760-934-7141; mammothbrewingco.com). Still in ski gear, they down free samples before filling up their growlers with IPA 395 ($13), a neighborhood favorite, or grabbing kegs and cases to travel. Another favorite spot among Mammoth’s growing international crowd is Shea Schat’s Bakery (3305 Main Street; 760-934-6055), which feels, and smells, much like the within a gingerbread house. The shop serves up steaming hot cocoa and stocks rows of pastries – cinnamon nut bread, ginger cakes and bread pudding.
9) MIDMOUNTAIN DINING
This winter Mammoth remodeled its swanky restaurant Parallax (800-626-6684; mammothmountain.com), that can take up almost half of your cafeteria at McCoy Station, a midmountain gondola station up in the Main Lodge. Its modern décor and Asian-themed trimmings, including white bark walls, would not look out of place in downtown Manhattan, save, perhaps, for the tacky TV Yule log fireplace. Yet at 9,600 feet, it can be reachable by only snowcat, which picks people up in the Mammoth Mountain Inn (10001 Minaret Road; 760-934-2581; mammothmountain.com). Hop aboard a heated snowcat that is like a spaceship while you gaze up in the mammothllakes through its glass roof. Then feast on dishes which range from a rack newest Zealand lamb to grilled chicken with risotto (foods are prix fixe at $89, including snowcat ride). For optimal views, arrive there as night falls.
10) ROCKIES MEETS HOLLYWOOD
Never mind the gondola D.J. booth and vintage lanterns above the bar. Hyde Lounge (6201 Minaret Road; 760-934-0669; sbe.com/hydemammoth) lives approximately its Sunset Boulevard forefather. There are bottle-service-only booths (from $200), lasers everywhere and Mammoth’s version of the strict door policy (“No snowboard gear”). The crowd sipping pricey cocktails is a mix of slovenly clad snowboarders and dressed-to-impress partygoers, all crammed within its fire-engine red walls. Warm-up by using a burning mango ($12), a jalapeño and vodka concoction, and settle set for an evening of individuals watching.
11) OLYMPIC WORKOUT
In recent years, Mammoth Lakes has changed into a year-round hub for Olympic and pro athletes fascinated by the top altitudes and easygoing ethos. A good byproduct is definitely the state-of-the-art facilities in the Snowcreek Athletic Club, which resembles a giant barn just outside town. The club recently opened the Double Eagle Spa (51 Club Drive; 760-934-8511; snowcreekathleticclub.com), with earthy massage rooms, Vichy showers along with a yoga studio. You could possibly even bump in to the New York City Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi working out in the weight room.
12) MOUNTAIN MAN
To appreciate the Sierra Nevada range’s jaw-dropping beauty, drop by Vern Clevenger’s gallery (220 Sierra Manor Road; 760-934-5100; vernclevenger.com) around town. His color photos (prints start at $149) of nearby canyons, lakes and mountain vistas are ubiquitous out and about, as is also the guy himself. Vern’s scruffy yellow jacket and unruly hair have already been a familiar presence at Mammoth since the early ’70s. He or she is a modern-day version of Ansel Adams, who more than anyone put this corner of California on the map.